13 Reasons Why is the latest show from Netflix that is likely flooding your social media newsfeed with think pieces.
Though the series is set in an American high school, this is no ordinary teen drama. Based on a novel of the same title by Jay Asher, it focuses on bullying, the reasons why someone so young could be capable of suicide, and what others can be doing to prevent things from getting to that point.
The show is causing major controversy, particularly due to its sensitive themes and some very intense moments, with some viewers questioning if it's really appropriate for teenagers to watch at all.
Here are 13 reasons why everyone is talking about 13 Reasons Why...
1. The concept is fascinating
17-year-old Hannah Baker from Liberty High School commits suicide, seemingly out of the blue. She leaves behind a series of 13 cassette tapes, each addressing 13 people whose actions contributed to her choice to take her own life, and she sends the tapes to them for reflection.
We follow Clay Jensen, a boy in her year who worked with her at the local cinema, and his journey discovering why she did it, and what his role was in it.
Because of this nature of the storytelling, the show is very easy to binge watch, and fascinating from the get-go.
2. The message about bullying is important
One of the most meaningful components of the series is the way it demonstrates that small actions, like laughing at an inappropriate message you receive, can have a big impact on others. It shows how these actions really make people feel, and causes introspection on how we should even define a bully or bullying in the first place.
High schoolers should watch the show for this message, certainly, but adults should too.
3. Selena Gomez is one of the producers on the show
Selena Gomez's background in acting, her experience suffering from depression and her involvement in speaking out about mental health issues makes her a natural choice to help shape this show. She has bravely spoken out about her time in rehab and why she has taken time off to deal with anxiety and depression, and she has done an impressive job with this show.
4. The lead actress is especially striking
While Selena Gomez was originally supposed to play Hannah Baker on the show, I'm actually glad she didn't because it gave Aussie actress Katherine Langford a chance to show off her talent. Langford is subtle in her emotion, expert in developing Hannah Baker's character, and very beautiful. Her acting contributes to the sense of loss behind her suicide, and how things could have turned out differently.
5. It features some intense scenes, particularly for a teen drama
Two of the most confronting scenes in the show involve rape and suicide, which is more than we often see in adult dramas, let alone a show aimed at teenagers. The scenes are graphic, and will make some people feel uncomfortable, which is already causing some controversy.
6. The show captures what it's like to be a teenager, but from a new perspective
As an adult watching this show, it quickly takes you back to how teenagers see the world, and the struggle of being a young person dealing with complex issues. From the way Clay Jensen's mum hovers around his room to the awkward teenage romances, it is nostalgic, but shows a darker side to those seemingly innocent times.
7. It's surprisingly well made, and will keep you on the edge of your seat
Don't listen to those who say the show is 'bad quality', but has an interesting concept. The show is clearly aimed at teenagers, however will have a wide appeal with imperfect characters that will hold your interest, and of course the concept, which keeps each episode refreshing, and makes this show very easy to watch.
8. The detail in the show is intriguing
One of the most fascinating parts of the show is the way each character's story intertwines into each other's, and you will only get enough detail to keep your attention as you work your way through the episodes. It teases events to come and makes you question who is really trustworthy, but it's always leading somewhere and adding to the story, giving you a deeper understanding behind Hannah's motivation.
9. There has been major backlash against the suicide scene at the end
Some critics have claimed that the show is a 'suicide manual' for teenagers, and I would argue that if you think that's the case, you've completely missed the point, as the true focus lies on the devastating effects of bullying. But the graphic nature of Hannah's suicide is causing plenty of controversy, and will certainly prevent some parents from letting their kids watch it.
10. The show's focus on slut-shaming is causing conversation
When a romantic encounter early in the series puts Hannah in a compromising situation, images fly around the school and Hannah must deal with students 'slut-shaming' her over something she didn't even do. However 13 Reasons Why unpacks the term 'slut' and challenges the idea that a woman's worth, even as a teenager, depends on her abstinence.
11. There are a few familiar faces in the cast
You'll see a couple of familiar actors cropping up, like Dylan Minnette (Clay Jensen) who appears in Goosebumps and Scandal. Kate Walsh plays Hannah Baker's mother Olivia, and you might have seen her before in Grey's Anatomy and Fargo. Katherine Langford (Hannah Baker) will definitely be one to keep an eye on in the future.
12. The soundtrack is great
The soundtrack features songs by Joy Division, The Cure, and even a specially made song by Selena Gomez.
13. The memes that the show has inspired are being called insensitive
A variety of memes have circulated the Internet since the show, the most popular of which make fun of the fact that Hannah is blaming others for her suicide.
While at first the concept may seem funny, the context is about a show explaining why a teenage girl committed suicide, and must be taken seriously.
13 Reasons Why is a show for teenagers that adults will enjoy, and likely learn something from. It addresses an important issue in today's world and ultimately teaches everyone an important message: be kinder to one another.